In Brief

Piraeus Port Authority to extend price freeze Piraeus Port Authority SA, the operator of Greece’s biggest port, has extended its freeze on service prices as the global financial crisis hurts trade. The freeze, initially introduced to cover the first six months of the year, has been extended to the end of 2009 with the possibility of a further six to 12 months more if need be, the company said in an e-mailed statement. (Bloomberg) PPC wants tough rules for rival power traders Greece’s dominant electricity utility, the Public Power Corporation (PPC), wants the government to impose charges on rivals who cherry-pick its most lucrative clients, a company official said on Thursday. PPC, Western Europe’s last state electricity company to lose its monopoly, faces rising competition from rivals entering the power generation and supply business as Greece opens up its energy market to comply with European Union laws. PPC has asked the government to require rivals to turn over part of their revenues to PPC as compensation for its costs to run the power grid and provide cheap electricity to some customers, Christos Poseidon, PPC’s general manager of supply, told Reuters. «This isn’t healthy competition,» Poseidon said. «PPC’s current tariff structure makes it too easy for competing suppliers to win clients.» The proposed access charge would create a level playing field between PPC, whose electricity prices are regulated by the government, and new entrants who benefit from low wholesale prices to undercut the incumbent’s tariffs for top-paying clients, PPC argues. (Reuters) Profits down DryShips Inc, a Greek owner of ships that haul iron ore and coal, reported a first-quarter loss of $101.8 million because of lower chartering rates for voyages. The loss was 93 cents a share, compared with net income of $176.3 million, or $4.61 a share, a year earlier, the Athens-based company said in a statement. The expected loss was 55 cents a share, the average of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Voyage revenues fell 58 percent to 97.6 million. The shipowner said January 22 that it had canceled the purchase of 12 ships and suspended its dividend to conserve cash, as Chinese demand for commodity shipments slowed. Dry-bulk shipping rates in the quarter fell 79 percent from a year earlier. (Bloomberg) Surplus decrease Bulgaria’s budget surplus dropped 12.5 percent to 514.3 million levs ($383.5 million) at the end of March from a month ago as the government spent with an open hand despite falling revenues, data showed on Thursday. The budget surplus in the first three months of last year stood at 1.7 billion levs, Finance Ministry data showed. The global economic crisis has hit the Balkan country hard, cutting economic activity and dampening domestic demand as foreign investors flee emerging economies and its key export markets plunged into recession. (Reuters) Growth revised Bulgaria’s central bank has revised its forecast for 2009 growth to between 0.6 and -2.0 percent from a previous 2 percent increase to reflect the global economic slowdown, the central bank said on Thursday. The bank said it has cut its forecast due to slowing economic activity and dampened domestic demand. (Reuters)